ABILENE, Texas — Hardin-Simmons' baseball team faced elimination on four different occasions and answered every time as the Cowboys won a crazy doubleheder on Saturday, with a 12-11 14-inning win in the nightcap after an 8-6 win in the first game, to claim its American Southwest Conference Championship Series over Mississippi College at Hunter Field.
"I have never seen a game like this, we had four times we had to score and did it all four times," said Steve Coleman. "This is a character win. It shows that you always have to play the game until the final out. I feel for Mississippi College, they had chances, we had chances and it was a great series. Neither team left anything out on the field."
The Cowboys capped off the madness when Troy Tarrant hit a double to score Jay Hiller from second in the bottom of the 14th inning. Tarrant, was the MVP of the series, after recording eight hits on the weekend.
HSU has tied the game at 6-6 with three runs in the bottom of the ninth. Austin Cantwell and Brian Blare drew walks as pinch hitters to lead off the inning then LeJuan Edwards has an RBI double and put runners at second and third. With two outs, Brian Weeks hit a grounder to deep third that Spencer Brunson booted and both runners came home to score to tie the game.
In the 11th MC scored a run on a Jeremy Simmons sacrifice fly. HSU answered with a bases loaded walk to Troy Tarrant to tie the game. Andy Smith had an RBI groundout and Mike Kerdock had an RBI single to score two runs in the 12th for MC.
HSU answered with two runs in the bottom of the 12th. Eric Zamora and Brian Blare each had singles to lead off the inning. Jordan Dotson then bunted to third and the ball was thrown away down the line by Brunson and HSU scored both runs and Dotson was at third with no outs. Edwards and Jay Hiller were intentionally walked to load the bases. Weeks then hit a liner to Brunson who stepped on the bag for a double play at third. Then Edwards was picked off second to end the threat.
In the 13th inning, MC scored on a Brett Hightower RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Chad Wooten. Taylor Berlin walked and Tarrant singled to lead off the 13th for the Cowboys. After a strikeout, Zamora walked to load the bases. Blare then drew a bases loaded walk and Tarrant scored on a wild pitch.
MC did not score in the 14th and Hiller reached on a Hightower error to start the inning. Weeks then singled to center. After a flyout by Berlin, Tarrant hit a ball of the top of the wall and left and Hiller strolled home and the Cowboys' erupted in a wild celebration.
The Cowboys advanced to the ASC Tournament next weekend at UT-Dallas. HSU will be joined by the Comets and two other West Division teams Concordia and McMurry.
The Cowboys have relied on a stellar bullpen all year and the two horses in the pen were big again. Tyler Brunnemann, who threw 51 pitches in the first game of the doubleheader, threw 81 pitches in the nightcap in five innings of work. He allowed two earned runs in relief of starter Blake Sieck. Sieck went five innings and allowed four runs and struck out seven.
James Simmons (7-2) came on and worked four innings of relief. He allowed two earned runs and earned the win. Ian Underwood, who threw 98 pitches in the Friday night game, threw 54 pitches in an inning and a third and took the loss for MC (4-2).
LeJuan Edwards had four hits and walked three times for the Cowboys. Hiller, Weeks, Tarrant and Zamora had two hits each. Five different MC players had two hits.
HSU scored single runs in the first and third and MC scored four times in the third to take a 4-2 lead. HSU scored once in the fifth and MC had single runs in the eighth and ninth to make it 6-3.
The second game lasted 4:22 and the teams combined to use 37 players. There were exactly 500 pitches thrown in the game.
HSU had to hold off the Choctaws to even get to the crazy third game. HSU led 5-2 going into the bottom of the seventh. MC scored a run in the first on a Shane Bennett RBI single and HSU countered with single runs in the second fourth and fifth. Joey Dearing had RBI singles in the second and fifth and Weeks had a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
MC countered with three runs in the bottom of the seventh as they chased Cowboy starter Kyle D'Allesio. D'Alessio allowed only three hits in six innings, but walked seven and struck out eight. Kyle Ladner walked and Jacob Daniel was hit by a pitch and Smith singled to load the bases with no outs. Kerdock then walked to force in a run and Brunnemann came on. He allowed a two-run single to Brunson but got out of the jam with game tied at 5-5.
He then worked another inning and one-third allowing just one run on three hits. Weeks homered in the eighth to give HSU a 6-5 lead. Daniel tied it with an RBI double in the eighth.
In the ninth, Dearing had a sacrifice fly and Andrew Rehling when Edwards beat out a infield hit and the throw got away. In the bottom of the ninth James Simmons came on with a runner on and one out and allowed a hit and a walk to load the bases, but got a double play ball to end the game.
Brunnemann earned the win to move to 4-1. Simmons earned his seventh save. Terrell Prescott worked four innings of relief and took the loss.
Dearing had two hits and drove in three and Daniel had two doubles for MC.
HSU has now won a non-scholarship era record 30 games and HSU is 30-12 on the year. MC ends its season at 24-18.
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